According to Australian Standard AS/NZS 2865 “Safe working in a confined space” 12.1 Appropriate emergency response and first aid procedure and provisions shall be planned, established and rehearsed.
I often hear the response that “Yes, we practiced our emergency plan at a training venue a couple of years ago.” Does this meet the requirement?
Before we jump into the debate, let’s consider the purpose of rehearsing a confined space emergency plan. According to the Victorian Confined Space Compliance Code, The emergency procedures must be rehearsed with relevant employees to demonstrate that the specific rescue plan for the space is effective. (Bold added for emphasis).
- The site evacuation plan is not a confined space emergency plan
- Rescue/retrieval is only one element of the confined space emergency plan
- Each confined space needs a specific plan for rescue / retrieval
A confined space emergency plan has different elements including an evacuation signal, the number to call for assistance, and the rescue or retrieval method. A rescue method for the space must be documented, but hopefully not needed. However, even the best planned and controlled confined space entry may need a rapid response to remove an unconscious person. Imagine a person has a heart attack in a confined space. This is no time to learn that there is insufficient head height to lift them from the space; that the loaded stretcher cannot be turned to fit through the manhole; that a rescuer, unaware of the internal atmosphere, cannot fit down the ladder wearing breathing apparatus!
By rehearsing the rescue method, the work-crew can demonstrate that the equipment on standby for the confined space can be used to retrieve a person with minimal delay. If the rehearsal takes too long, change the retrieval method.So… No, practicing a rescue on an unrelated confined space training prop does not meet the requirement for rehearsal.